This text is a translation of the article 'Des constructions éco-responsables pour bâtir l'avenir'
Source: Smart Media Agency, FOKUS Energie et Environnement, fokus-online.be, supplement to the Le Vif/L'Express, December 2023
Rethink the Architecture of Tomorrow
By taking an eco-responsible approach to their projects, certain players in the construction sector are making a major contribution to a sustainable legacy for future generations. To find out more, we interviewed Kristien De Vries and Nelson Moors, PPP Manager and Production Manager Building at Jan De Nul respectively.
A sustainable construction project starts with the project owner taking a holistic approach to the project and making conscious, responsible decisions in collaboration with the experts, the architect, and the contractor. "Taking a long-term view when designing buildings will make them suitable to serve multiple purposes during their lifetime. Each project must be designed with an eye to its ability to fit into its environment in a sustainable manner," advises Kristien De Vries. An adaptive structure also facilitates renovation afterwards, rather than (re)construction, thus minimising the use of concrete, the recycling of which is currently limited.
"The emergence of wooden structures, inspired by the Nordic countries, is also a sustainable alternative to concrete frames," points out Nelson Moors. While the choice of materials is important, so too is their assembly. "Materials that can be easily dismantled and reused do not require recycling, which optimises their total cost of life cycle and limits the environmental impact of a building," explains Kristien De Vries.
Strategic Adaptation and Energy Optimisation
Making informed decisions requires an in-depth analysis and a specific approach to the project. Indeed, best practice can vary considerably depending on the geographical location and specific characteristics of the project. "The feasibility and effectiveness of geothermal energy, for example, largely depends on the proximity of a water source and the composition of the soil," says Nelson Moors.
Once the locally available energy resources have been identified, their use needs to be optimised. To reduce a building's overall energy consumption, Kristien De Vries first advises building owners to limit buildings’ volumes to the necessary spaces, and to attach great importance to a highly efficient building envelope.
People, Planet, Profit
Water management is one of the most important factors in adapting to the climate and mitigating its effects. A rainwater harvesting system on a roof can effectively collect and store rainwater for later use. Covered with vegetation, the roof will furthermore offer thermal insulation and increase the yield of solar panels. "Approaches such as these respond perfectly to the three pillars of sustainable development: People, Planet, and Profit. They offer aesthetic, acoustic, ecological, and economic benefits," says Kristien De Vries.
By continuously implementing responsible practices from the planning up to the execution stages, the construction sector is paving the way for a sustainable future.
The project owner needs to take a holistic approach to the project and make conscious, responsible decisions.
Kristien De Vries